John Goheen knew that the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to do something special this year's National Memorial Day in Ottawa to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
But as he learned that Legion had set himself in a special wreath to honor the Canadians who lost their lives during the Great War, the long Legion member and Coquitlami, BC, the schoolmaster never suspected that the organizers asked him to place his national war memorial on November 11.
On Sunday morning, Goheen, who served with three relatives between 1914 and 1918, said his early stages and surprises changed into hard expectations.
"I think that when I go there, I will think of the victims of my family in both World Wars, but on the other hand, given the enormous costs that the country has paid," he told Global News before the ceremony. "Do you think that one of the three men at that time took on a uniform.
"It's astonishing, all of the nothingness."
The 51-year-old Port Coquitlam resident has been a volunteer guide to the Legion's Pilgrimage of Remembrance for over 20 years. The two-yearly round trips will take participants to the major and lesser-known destinations of both the First and Second World War.
Goheen, who joined the local Legion of 19 and was hired on a tour of the late 20's, has never served the Canadian Army, but he has studied these two wars for the best part of his life. To this day, he is able to identify a moment when his fascination with World War II, memorials and veterans began.
He was seven years old, says Goheen, and his father took him to the Vancouver Annual Memorial Day at Victory Square, where he saw many World War II veterans probably in the late 70's and early 80's at that time.
"There was something – I can not say exactly what it is – but it made me something quite sensible to see these co-workers," Goheen said in a phone interview before the Sunday morning ceremony. "And so I think I started getting interested, I wanted to know what it was all about."
After decades of studies, journeys to Europe and working with the Legion, it is not surprising that Goheen had already planned the Ottawa Memorial Day ceremony for the 100th anniversary of armaments. And then he got a phone call for putting a special bread over a month ago.
The wreath, said Goheen, was modeled after what was used in 1919, especially the wreath used by Princess Patricia Canada's Light Witch.
Goheen said he was "thankful and honored" for the opportunity.
"IIt's hard to even say, "he said earlier this week.
Although they could not join him in Ottawa, Goheen said that his wife and four daughters were looking at a ceremony at their home west coast.
"It just meets you in the throat"
Goheen said that his interest in the First World War grew passionate when he read and studied "voraciously" throughout his teenagers and 20-year-olds. At the same time, he also revealed the history of his family, which made his research more personal and meaningful, he said.
Goheen's grandfather fought with New Brunswick's 26th battalion when he was ages with his testimony papers. At his 18th anniversary in 1916, Francis Niles fought the front of Ypres, Goheen said. Niles was wounded a week later, ending his service and "probably saved his life," Goheen said.
"He never told about his experiences, like many of them … and my family, the daughters did not really know much about him," Goheen said to his grandfather who died in 1971. "Only when I started exploring and I pieced his story."
From the Father's side, Goheen's grandfather's youngest brother and cousin also served. They were killed at the end of the war in September and October 1918. The great uncle was buried, and Goheen has gone to his grave; the cousin's body was never found, but his name was engraved on the Vimy monument in France, Goheen said.
B.C. a man first traveled to Europe to visit World War sites as a participant in some of the Legion's pilgrimages in 1995, a trip he said he touched him deeply.
"Tfor the first time I went to Vimy Memorial and saw (my last name), it just grabs the throat, "he said." You think you're suffering from your back. It's pretty spiritual. And it will not change because I've been there several times and it is the same feeling. "
"I just knew that when I got home that trip, I had to go back there."
Goheen continued his personal journey the following year and returned in 1997 again to a perverted tour. Over the years, he has continued to travel to Europe to find new sites and artifacts, return to his grave in the grave and return to certain events such as the last days of his other relatives.
Many people are history enthusiasts, Goheen said, but he knows his trip and his research on Canadian military history is different because they have "always emphasized this idea of remembering."
"I was always aware of the point of memory … I want to know more so I can understand who these guys are and what they are going through, "he said.
Goheen received a veteran minister in 2012 from his meritorious "military history and memory".
Goheen said he was talking to her daughter about their genealogy and what she did when she sees them being interested. This year, he said, because it is the 100th anniversary of the end of the great war, the message he has been trying to convey to them is that the memorial also marks "the beginning of our modern commemoration."
"Despite the amount of the first war, the number of deaths and the constant grief, remembering was due to the country's only cost," he said. "You had these Lions forces and memorials in every small town so I try to put them in perspective.
"… It's been long, but it's where everything starts."
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